When you look an Amanda Adare painting in the eyes, it's hard to look away.
In many ways, it's like looking in the mirror at the most vulnerable version of yourself. And it's beautiful.
¤ Exhibit of work by Amanda Adare
¤ The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
¤ Small Works Gallery in the Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.
Adare usually paints fast, using whatever is near her to get the paint in place -- brushes, palette knives, her finger. The image rushes out of her.
Occasionally, she has a reference photo to draw from, but usually it comes straight from her subconscious to the canvas.
The piece "At the end of the conversation" took 30 minutes to complete. She went downstairs agitated from a fight with her husband.
Barely stopping to think, she fired paint from her brush until the image was there before her -- an old couple sitting next to each other. There is tenderness and anger between their hunched bodies.
The people in her paintings are reminiscent of Van Gogh's portraits. Their surroundings are stripped away or minimized, and the story is told in their crooked features.
"I am inspired by the drama of human society," Adare said. "I'm drawn to the anxiety of it, the loneliness that is everywhere in our society."
One of her most powerful pieces is a 71-by-95 inch, two-panel piece titled "The Birds." Painted on wood, Adare completed the piece after a close friend carried a child to full term and lost it. It was a baby girl.
In the right panel of "The Birds," a little girl is walking away from the viewer. The outlines of the girl are swept away like wind blowing at sand. She is walking away with a man, a guardian.
The left panel is empty except for the presence of three birds, symbols for something Adare can't quite name.
The 38-year-old Australian artist has lived in Steamboat since July with her husband and newborn baby. The show hanging in the Small Works Gallery at the Depot Art Center is her first since moving to town.
The show features painting and sketches mostly completed during the three years she lived in Rome.